DEFIANCE – Wauseon turned it over three times, two of which led to Ottawa-Glandorf touchdowns, then let the Titans control the ball for much of the second half in a 21-14 loss in a Division IV, Region 14 semifinal Saturday at Defiance High School.
“Defensively they had a good attack. Their guys ran hard,” said Wauseon coach Shawn Moore of Ottawa-Glandorf. “Our guys gave it everything that they had out there. They (O-G) were able to come up with some conversions and stay on the field. Kill the time. When we got the ball on offense, we had some areas with some space to make some plays. We had to move around a little bit. Cody (Figy) was on the move. They had some pressure, more pressure than we’ve seen this year. Hats off to those guys.”
Wauseon outgained O-G 359-291, despite the Titans holding the edge in time of possession 28:16 to 19:35.
The Indians drove deep into Titan territory on the game’s opening possession with the help of a 23-yard catch and run from Noah Tester and 22-yard completion to Jonas Tester. However, on first-and-10 at the 18-yard line, Isaac Wilson ran for a couple but was stripped by the Titans who recovered at the 16.
While that didn’t lead to a score, the next Wauseon giveaway did. Figy overthrew his intended target and was intercepted by O-G’s Will Kaufman who advanced the ball to the Wauseon 40 before a block in the back on the return brought it back ahead of midfield.
Titan quarterback Jacob Balbaugh got them on the board, connecting with Jarrod Beach who got free on a wheel route for a 53-yard TD. Ethan Alt’s extra point put the Titans up 7-0 at the 5:25 mark of the first quarter.
Wauseon responded with a 95-yard drive, finishing it with a 24-yard strike from Figy to Connar Penrod and Samuel Blanco’s extra point tied the game with 10:31 remaining in the half.
The Indians then forced an O-G punt, however, they would get it back at their own 15. They got one first down but on third-and-7 at their own 31, Figy attempted to climb the pocket and was hit and stripped by the Titan defense who recovered at the 33.
It took them just four plays to score as Eric Heebsh ran one in from four yards away, giving O-G a 14-7 lead at the 5:29 mark. They carried that seven point edge into the break.
The Titans had a pair of time killing drives in the second half which helped put away the Indians.
The first came after both teams went three-and-out on possessions to begin the third quarter. Despite starting inside Wauseon territory at the 33, they were able to take several minutes off the clock by running on every play.
They converted a pair of fourth downs as well, including Balbaugh’s QB sneak on fourth-and-goal at the one for a 21-7 lead with 3:55 left in the third.
Wauseon, like they did for most of the night, was able to drive the field on the next possession using its intermediate passing game. However, it eventually ended with them turning the ball over on downs at the O-G 25.
“We tried to take what they could give us,” said Moore of his offense’s night. “I thought for the most part Cody did a good job of getting it out into the flats. We tried to take some shots with Connar, and we just weren’t able to make the big plays like we have all year.”
The Indians kept the Titan fans in suspense in the final minute when Penrod caught a 29-yard TD in traffic with nine seconds left. They also recovered the ensuing onside kick, advancing the ball down to the O-G 34 before running out of time.
The Indians (9-3) had a pair of 100-yard receivers on the night as Noah Tester caught seven passes for 103 yards and Penrod seven for 101 and two scores. Figy hit on 25 of 44 passes for 299 yards and the two TDs to Penrod. On the ground, Wilson tallied 54 yards on nine carries.
For O-G (9-3), Balbaugh completed 14 of 20 for 221 yards and a TD. Beach caught five for 119 and a score, and Kaufman six for 57.
Although their season ended earlier than they would have liked, there was a lot to like about the 2019 campaign for Wauseon.
In the preseason, not many would have predicted the Indians to make the playoffs under a first-year coach. Following a 4-6 season in 2018, Moore helped the Indians increase their win total by five in 2019. They also finished alone in second in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League race, surpassing a prediction of fifth by their peers.
“It was an outstanding year,” concluded Moore. “The guys worked hard the whole season. I can’t say enough about their work ethic day in and day out. A great group of kids.
“Nobody thought that we were gonna be here. And it’s a testament to those kids and the way that they worked this year, that we were able to get here.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010